Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Don't make me go all "Terms of Endearment" on you.

My Dad had back surgery this morning.
As the nurses and doctors were bustling around preparing him for surgery...
What was I doing?
Taking pictures of course!
I mean why else would I be there?
Actually I can come in handy sometimes for other things as well.
Last night I lay in bed anticipating the 6:00 alarm and staring at the ceiling when my thoughts turned to another surgery my father had about 15 years ago.
He had prostate cancer and decided that the best treatment would surgery. I went with them so that I could sit in the waiting room with my mom who happens to hold the title of "Greatest Worrier in the World".
She has perfected the art of worrying and should teach college level classes at the local university.
There was 5 or 6 other families that were all there waiting for their family members to have the same procedure. We were all told that the nurse would come out when the procedure was begun and then midway through to give us a progress report and then towards the end when they were almost finished. Then the doctor would come out and talk to us about the surgery.
We sat anxiously waiting for the first report as did the other families in the room.
The first report trickled out to each family one by one and we all felt a little relief.
The second report came a couple of hours later like dominoes falling and as each family heard the news they would smile and look a little more comfortable.
That is except Mom and I.
We didn't get out second report.
We waited and waited and waited.
Every time a nurse would come in, we would be hopeful that she was looking for us, only to watch her pass on by.
As the nurses came to the other families to give a final report we were getting downright scared.
Finally a nurse comes up to us and says, "Would you follow me?"
She leads us into a small room that looks like has been set up to resemble someones living room. A tacky one at that.
My eyes scan the room and fall on the box of kleenex and a bible.
This can't be good.
I don't want to say what I am thinking of course because I am there to be the support person.
I am the designated "everything's going to be fine" person.
I try my best to reassure my mother who is at this point looking as frightened as I have ever witnessed.
Both of us are trying to figure out what will come next.
I reassure her again that I am sure that it will be fine.
But I don't know that.
5 minutes pass.
It seems like hours.
I keep saying the same thing over and over to my mother's concerns that my father has passed away.
"We don't know that! Everything will be okay."
Ten minutes pass.
My words are hollow and I have nothing left new to say.
Everytime I look at my mother's face I feel pain and that makes me
After the longest 15 minutes I have ever waited through I decide my mother has suffered enough.
I don't know if you have seen the movie, "Terms of Endearment"

But in a nutshell, Shirley Maclaines daughter is dying of cancer and is in a lot of pain.
When it comes to the time she should have another pain pill the nurses are not responding.
In one of my favorite scenes ever, she goes to the nurses station, pounds her fists on the counter and screams for them to get her daughter a pain pill.
It is all that she can do for this person she loves so much.
Take away her pain.
Well I quickly surveyed our "family room" and saw a door marked,
"Medical personnel only"
I got up and opened the door and came face to face with the big metal swinging door marked Surgery.
At this point there was no stopping me.
I pushed them open as hard as I could
And faced a counter of surprised nurses faces.
Before they could even speak I said something to this effect.
"My sweet mother has been sitting in this horrible room thinking that her husband is dead for over 15 minutes now and I don't care what it takes but somebody is going to go and give her information NOW!"
(I can't remember if I pounded my fists or not but I hope so)
The poor nurses were stunned and it took a moment for it to sink in.
"What's your Dad's name?"
John Lauck.
"Oh he is fine and in recovery. His doctor should have been already. He likes to talk to the family privately instead of in the waiting room."
Well la-ti-da!
Couldn't someone have told us that to begin with?
One of the best pieces of information I have ever been able to deliver was to my sweet mother that everything was fine, better than fine....it was great!
This morning the nurse told us before my dad went in that this doctor will take us into a private room to discuss the surgery.
It's a good thing they told me.
I don't think they want me to go all "Shirley Maclaine" on them.
Nobody wants to see that again.

1 comment:

Kristin said...

Hope your Father's making a full recovery - thank goodness not all physicians are as inconsiderate as yours was. I really do have to appreciate most of their repoir with patients and families. Their news is frequently not always good - and they manage to relate it well with great empathy most of the time. Of course there is always exceptions . . .